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For some time, we had discussed bringing in a cleaning lady, but constantly rejected the idea, since cleaning ladies are very expensive round these parts (they nearly make twice as much per hour as my husband does) and we would only be able to afford to take a cleaning lady maximum once a week for an hour or two. That felt pointless, since our house anyhow was getting totally clean once a week- it was maintenance that was the problem- by the end of every day, my place would be a mess, and it would just get messier and messier unless my husband cleaned it.
When I tried to be on top of cleaning it, things always came up. The kids need me, and I can't just ignore them to clean, because then they often end up messing another part of the house while I'm cleaning the first part. And even if my older kids didn't do that, Rose, the baby, often needs to be held.
It wasn't like I was being lazy. I was doing stuff a lot of the day. Taking care of the kids. Homeschooling them. Cooking up delicious, healthy, frugal meals. But cleaning always ended up on the back burner.
So in order for the place to not look like a bomb hit it, my husband would often stay up late at night cleaning, only to wake up just a few short hours later to head out to work. It was really hard on him, and understandably he would resent it, and would stress out.
Then my husband was given the option to increase his hours at work- and since he gets paid hourly, that meant a bigger income.
However, Mike was ambivalent about accepting the offer. While we could use the extra money, Mike wasn't sure he could handle the stress of the longer hours in addition to all the cleaning up he was already doing on a regular basis. He told me that he'd only agree to the longer hours if I could do the cleaning that he was currently doing, because he felt that cleaning up after me and the kids was already a part time job...
However, I wasn't sure what to do. I knew myself. I knew I could try to get the place cleaner, but I have a hard time with consistency. I start projects and then stop them after a short time. Its hard for me to stick to the task, especially on a long term basis, and I knew that that was exactly what Mike needed. I knew that even if I promised that I'd keep the place cleaner on a regular basis, despite my best intentions, it wouldn't happen.
I needed intervention.
And then I thought- what about a mother's helper?
A mother's helper is exactly what it sounds like.
Kind of like a cross between a babysitter, a cleaning lady, and an older child. Mother's helpers are generally too young to be babysitting on their own, too young to actually do serious cleaning, but are old enough to pitch in.
I decided to try it out, see if I can find a mother's helper from my community, to come by on a regular basis, to help me out with the kids and some light housework.
I found 2.
I now have a mother's helper coming by 4 days a week, an hour and a half to two hours a day.
And it has been life changing.
Because mother's helpers are young- mine are 10- they get paid less per hour than a babysitter does, and much less than a cleaning lady does. Because of that, I am able to afford to have them 4 days a week, and that helps me with daily maintenance, which was why I didn't get a cleaning lady...
So, what does a mother's helper actually do, and why do I find it so life changing?
Well, first off, there's the fact that I know that each day, at a set hour, I'll be having someone coming by, and this is my time to get the place clean. No procrastinating. No finding something better to do. This is my structured time to get the job done.
Does that mean that my mothers' helpers actually clean?
Sometimes yes, but more often than not, it's actually me cleaning. It's just that I have it built into my schedule as a set cleaning time.
I consider my mother's helper kind of like I would an older child- a child who has age appropriate chores- but they're more willing to do these chores since they know they're getting paid. That doesn't mean I can ask them to do anything and they'll gladly do it. No- they're kids after all. Not servants.
Many of the things I ask my mother's helpers to do are things my kids could do, and they do do that sometimes- I just have to pull teeth to get my kids to do it, but don't have to pull teeth to get my mother's helpers to do. Things like sweeping the floor, hanging and taking down the laundry, sorting and folding laundry, tidying up, etc...
But honestly- its generally myself that is doing the housework. My mother's helpers often are just playing with my kids (mainly Rose and Anneliese) so that I can get cleaning done- like doing the dishes, mopping the floor, etc... Or making supper. Or even just getting a little break. (As a stay at home mom who homeschools, I don't often get a break. So this is how I get mine.)
Because of my mother's helpers, I feel my life is so much less stressful. I feel less overwhelmed, more able to accomplish things. I can't say my house is always perfect, but the baseline of my house is much better than it used to be. And my husband doesn't have to do it, so he can work the longer hours without stressing about needing to clean up the messy place when he gets home.
The best thing is- I find myself often cleaning earlier in the day, making the place already the standard "clean" my house gets to now, even before my mother's helpers arrive, so that I get to the bigger projects that always get pushed aside, because I can't do them until the house is neat, and every day instead of doing the project, I was just cleaning up... But now, I've found time to declutter, organize cabinets and dressers, etc... and get to the deep cleaning on a more regular basis.
On top of everything- my mother's helpers are usually here right before my husband gets home- so he gets to come home to a clean house, something that's very important to him.
Oh, and because the place now stays cleaner on a regular basis, cleaning up takes less time and is less of a chore to get done, because I don't get backlogged too much.
In short- getting a mother's helper on a regular basis was the best decision I've made in a long time. Its made such a difference in my life, in my husband's life, and in my kids' lives.
Worth every cent. Much cheaper than a cleaning lady, and more useful for me too.
If you are similar to myself, in that housework is hard for you to keep up with, but money is short- I highly suggest looking in to the concept of a mother's helper, and seeing if it'll work for you and improve your life as much as it has mine.
Have you ever heard of a mother's helper? Ever have one? If you've had both a mother's helper and a cleaning lady, which did you find was more useful for you, made a bigger difference in your life?